The stakes were low, the energy high and the conclusion acceptable for the Warriors on Friday, as even while resting three starters they came away with to a 125-122 win over the Pelicans, who treated the game mostly as an audition.
The victory gives the Warriors (38-33) their first five-game win streak this season and puts them five games over .500 for the first time since 2018-19.
With Stephen Curry, Draymond Green and Andrew Wiggins all out of the lineup, Jordan Poole scored a career-high 38 points and Mychal Mulder put in a career-high 28.
The Pelicans, eliminated from the playoff race earlier this week, were without injured starters Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram and Lonzo Ball.
Here are three observations from a game in which the Warriors blew a 19-point lead that reintroduced a couple players to the Golden State roster:
Poole’s productive and scary evening
In a game without competitive consequences, the one thing the Warriors hoped to avoid, above all else, was seeing a rotation player go down with injury. That’s exactly what happened with Poole in the third quarter.
Starting in place of Curry, Poole had scored 24 points when he twisted his left ankle with 9:52 left in the third quarter. Leaping to tap a rebound to a teammate, he landed atop the foot of Pelicans big man Willy Hernangomez and fell to the floor clutching his left leg.
Poole limped into the locker room, was examined, returned to the bench, iced the ankle, tested its flexibility and, whoa, returned to the game with 6:05 left in the quarter. He drained two free throws and two triples over the next three minutes.
It’s hard to imagine the ankle won’t be sore on Saturday and probably Sunday, too, but serious injury was avoided.
In addition to 38 points on 12-of-22 shooting, including 4-of-9 from distance, Poole recorded six assists and grabbed four rebounds.
The Return, Pt. I: Eric Paschall
After missing 31 games this season and the last six weeks with a hip flexor strain so severe he initially had trouble walking, Paschall was back on the court. His return is a significant insofar as he is the Warriors’ best offensive option as a small-ball center.
The only person in this particular rotation to score as many as 34 points in an NBA game, Paschall’s scoring ability might be beneficial in the play-in game and certainly would come into play should the Warriors advance to the first round of the playoffs.
He looked surprisingly good, playing 19 minutes, scoring 12 points, on 4-of-5 shooting, and grabbing four rebounds.
The most encouraging sight for the Warriors was Paschall making shots with ease, particularly a 3-pointer off the dribble late in the third quarter. The staff has been nudging him to develop the 3-ball, and the work might be paying off.
The Return, Pt. II: Jordan Bell
After 22 months away from the Warriors, Bell entered the game with 2:06 left in the first quarter. He spent the rest of the quarter and much of the second trying to figure out where to go and what to do, all while searching for his timing.
Which was to be expected of someone who since leaving Golden State has been with six different franchises, most recently the Wizards until his second 10-day contract with Washington expired on April 28.
Bell played 15 minutes, finishing with one point, five rebounds and two assists. In short, he got in a decent workout with a group of guys he barely knows.